Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The wait

Ever since we made the decision to go IVF/ICISI we've essentially given up trying to get a BFP on our own. We've handed our future over to a doc and his team.

The stress of everything going on right now seems enormous. Work, the holidays, upcoming vacation and so on. I'm not sleeping well. In fact very poorly. I fall asleep OK, but I'm up around 12:30AM for an hour, then again at 4 (mainly because the dog tries to get on the bed) and then usually up from 6ish to 7ish. The alarm goes off at 7:00 AM. My wife is doing no better.

We go on vacation next week. We've always slept so well while we are away. And it is not the bed or the room. I think just being away from it all makes all the difference in the world. I'm looking forward to the week. Mainly because I hope to sleep deeply through the night.

When we start the IVF process I don't know how I'm going to sleep. The other stresses like work, the house and all of the daily stuff will not go away. Maybe exhaustion will be my friend. At times I wish I had a simpler life. No computers, no phones, no internet, and a little house on some acres with lots of tress with a stream running through the backyard for the dog to swim in. A view of something else other than houses across the road. Does not need to be a majestic view, just a view.

I guess that is why I work so hard. I envision that for my family one day. A little place that is private where stupid neighbours don't walk across our lawn.

But you know, the house being my office is probably the biggest problem. I lack will power sometimes. And I'm never truely off. I'm always on call in some sense. There are great benefits to this working at home. But I think the 'not being able to get away from it' is a big fault. So much so, I think I might just build a lone standing building for my office in our next house. Something that is locked separately. Something that I truely get away from.

I wish I could get my thinking right.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Talkin' about it.

This past Saturday my wife and I were having dinner with some good friends. We’ve told them about our IVF/ICSI adventure. They asked what causes the lower sperm count. T. then asked this rhetorical question: “Were you kicked in the balls as a kid?”

Why does one have low sperm count? There can be several very obvious reasons, but for most of the men suffering from this the reason is rarely know.

The obvious stuff:
Having some diseases, for example, mumps Or having cancer then radiation treatment.

In my case the cause is not specifically know.

I had the a varicocele which can cause infertility on two fronts.
1) The affected side, usually the left, testicle will likely be smaller due to lack of blood. Kind of like atrophy.
2) The heat from the veins may cause infertility.

I told T. these things in very matter of fact terms. I wish I knew what she was thinking as I used all of the correct terminology. Like scrotum, testicle… and and. I don’t think I’ve ever used those terms with her.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Results of the Varicocele Repair

I’ve had three sperm tests done, two before the surgery and one after. The one after was only two months after the surgery.

The numbers:
1st 17m
2nd 10m
Surgery
3rd 2 m

The 2 million one freaked me out. The OB/GYN didn’t seem to be as concerned as we did about the downward trend. The urologist told us to wait at least 6 months to see any results. We asked the OB/GYN if we did the test too early. He said he didn’t know.

All in all, 2, 10, or 17 million does not really matter if we are going through IVF/ICSI. And there are other numbers which I am not mentioning, like morphology and motility; which are equally important. Having a high count with no swimmers is not better.

All that matters is they can pull good ones to do the ICSI with.
We’ll be doing another count in Jan and see if the numbers are any different.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Depending on how you get there, the view can look remarkably different

I love to think in analogies. Sometimes I’ll apologies for it before I give one. I’ve never been sure if my tendency to think in analogies was a sign of an intellectual deficit or asset.

I’ve done hiking in Whistler, Lake Louise, the Alps around Mount Blanc, Pyrenees, and the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island. I’ve always found it amazing how I felt about the view at the destination depended on how I got there. For example, in Whistler I can take a gondola up to the top or I can hike up to the top. I’ve done both, but the gondola more frequently since I skied there as well.

Each time I hiked up I always saw something I didn’t when I rode up the gondola. But it was the same view. Somehow there was more satisfaction out of hiking up then there was riding the gondola up. Another one of my favourite hikes is Fairview in Lake Louise. This is the first major hike my wife and I did together. It is about 8 hours round trip and has an elevation gain of about 5,000 feet. It was tough. Near the end, the last mile so to speak, is the toughest. It is the steepest part. And at that stage the legs are like rubber and the whole body is exhausted.

I liken our IVF journey to this hiking on two points:
1) It is going to be tough and at the last stage I’m sure our entire body will feel like rubber.
2) When we get there I think the view will some how be different and more enjoyable.

I once said to my wife that I don’t think I would trade this infertility in for being fertile. I prefaced that with, as long as we can get a BFP through the IVF. She was a little shocked. Probably wondering why I would choose this again.

And I guess the reason is this:

If we got pregnant easily I think we would have been most concerned about buying the right crib, the right stroller, the right clothes, having the baby in the right month, and just generally the wrong things.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The DW's Story

I am the wife of Paul and thought I'd too like to join in this blog to express my thoughts and feelings during our on-going journey to become pregnant.

As my DH said in one of his earlier blogs, when we first decided to try to have a baby we were concerned about which month we wanted to have the baby in, how much money we would need each month for diapers, and formula, and so forth. We started putting money aside in a Baby Fund to help offset the loss of income we would exprience when I would be on maternity leave. We thought we were getting ourselves well prepared. We had no idea what would lie ahead.

After the first few months of not being successfull we thought, it's okay we've only tried for a few months. I was reading lots about TTC. Like, how to optimize your chances of becoming pregnant, which positions would be best to help those sperm find their way to the egg, what herbal remedies my husband and I should be taking. I found some very informative forums on the internet in which women were chatting about their experiences and their journey to conceive. I knew that some women on these forums got pregnant the first or second try, but overall, most women didn't conceive until about the 6 to 9 month mark of TTC. We were fine - I just had to be patient.

As the months went by, I started to get worried. Time was a factor for us (I was 30 and my DH 32) and so at about the 6 month mark, DH decided to visit the doctor. We were told, don't worry about it. Well, 2 months or so after that, we still weren't pregnant. Thanks to the persisting of my DH, we got a referral to a urologist. As my DH mentioned in his pervious post, he had surgery and found out his low sperm count got even lower. When I went to my doctor for my annual, I decided to push for a referral to an OB/GYN. My doctor pulled some strings and we got an appointment to see the doctor in less than a month.

I felt so excited and relieved because now we were actually getting something done. After having that first appointment with the doctor, I didn't feel so excited. The picture the doctor painted for us wasn't a good one. He told us our chances of taking home a baby were about 30-35%. This is not what we wanted to hear. When I heard that, my dreams of becoming a mom were shattered. I don't think I really heard anything else the doctor had to say to us after that. I felt so sad and hopeless. I just wanted to cry. But, I managed to hold it together and got some bloodwork done and an HSG booked for the next month.

That night when we got home and started talking about what the doctor had said to us, my DH turned to me and said that he wished he would have gotten a sperm analysis done before we had gotten married because than I could have decided if I still wanted to marry him. I was speechless for a second. It was than that I realized how hard this must be on him. I knew how I would feel if the roles were reversed, if there was something wrong with me. All I could do was cry and hug him. I told him that we are in this together. I married him for the good times and the bad. He is the man I wanted to marry, the man I did marry, and the man I want to take this journey with.

So in the next month or so we got an appointment with a fertility clinic. I was so nervous because the news we received last time was not so positive and I didn't want to have to hear it again. Well, to my surprise, that trip to the doctor's was the first trip in a long time that I actually left with some hope. We were told that our changes of becoming pregnant with the help of IVF and ICSI (the only procedure that would work for us because of the low sperm count) was about 60-65%.! Wow! I couldn't believe it! I was so excited and felt that there was a chance of my dreams coming true - to become a mommy and see the man I love become a daddy!

As of today, we are mentally, financially, and emotionally set for IVF. We will be starting the process in late January after we come back from a much needed vacation to Costa Rica. I know we still have some hills to climb in the road ahead and there will be many ups and downs for us in the next couple of months. However, I figure that if we made it up the mountain this far over the last 18 months, we can make it to the top!

The IVF Bomb.

To or not to drop the IVF bomb on family and relatives has caused a lot of discussion between my wife and I about how, when, who, where, and what.

We gave careful consideration on who tell, if anyone at all. We decided to tell all of our family, close friends, plus my boss and my wife’s boss. We did each of them separately and most of the time over dinner.

As time went on we became more comfortable with the topic. We are also more knowledgeable about it then people who’ve not gone through IVF or studied it. We’ve had reactions from engaging dialogue to please pass the salt. (Although no one ever said that phrase.) The IVF is an immensely personal experience. And it is very intrusive. To talk about it is to talk about the failing of one of the most intimate acts between a man and a woman. Talking about a sex life around the dinner table with parents, aunts, uncles, close friends and bosses is not a ‘normal’ thing to do. So talking about IVF skirts the sex life issue which is not a discussion I am accustomed to having with my father-in-law or my own parents for that fact.

Our families have been very supportive of us. They are giving words of encouragement. And we accept them all. I have said a couple of times “we have learned we cannot ‘will’ this.” Basically a polite way of letting them know we don’t need a peep talk, we’ve given it our all, and this is the deck of cards we were dealt… and this is the action we need to take and we need to be mentally prepared for a BFN. Boiled down – we don’t want to be delusional. Yes, we need to remain positive and yes, state of mind can make a big difference. But we don't want to blissfully ignorant. In fairness, if it were my daughter/son telling me s/he were going for IVF treatment, I’m not so sure I would know how to respond either.

Our odds are very good of getting pregnant via IVF. In fact, they are better than the most healthy fertile in their prime couple trying to get pregnant. We’ve got a 60%->65% of getting a BFP.

In dropping the IVF bomb we touched everyone in a way I bet they weren’t expecting. I feel it has brought everyone closer. My wife and I are about to embark on a journey like one we’ve never had before. She is going to be poked and prodded and scanned. We are going to take the act of getting pregnant and we are going to hand it over to a doctor and his support team. There are going to be trying times ahead. And the support of our families is going to help immensely.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Can you cure infertility with diet?

The internet is a wonderful resource. It flattens the world like never before. And it makes the power of information available to everyone. The catch is the novice of any subject may not have the experience to tell the BS from the gold nuggets.

As my DW and I struggled with this we started looking for solutions. We started finding these solutions on the net.

The most distributive to us was diet. My DW and I are normal weight and eat a balanced diet.

We found information that said we should cut out caffeine, refined sugar, and alcohol.

So it started – the major upheaval in our diet.

I love my coffee. Two large ones a day. If I don’t drink them I get headaches. I managed to kick coffee for 2 months. We stopped eating anything with refined sugar in it. Which is incredibly difficult to do. And we stopped alcohol, which for us, is not a big deal.

The upside to all of this was I managed to kick my coffee habit, we started losing weight, and saved money by not buying wine or beer. The downside, didn’t seem to make an ounce of difference.

When we finally got to the fertility clinic the nurse told us all of those things were fine in moderation. On the drive home we stopped at Tim’s

Friday, December 02, 2005

What the thyroid pills were meant to do

In my last post I mentioned my family doctor put me on thyroid pills. They were meant to stimulate testosterone which in turn would stimulate sperm development.

It didn’t seem to work. The counts went 17M, 10M, and 2M. They got worse as time went on.

I watched this excellent webinar about the IVF process. If I can find the link I will post it. The doctor hosting the webinar said that too much testosterone could lower sperm count!!! The very next day I stopped the pills.

I also learned in that webinar that the sperm production process is almost a black box. They don’t really know what goes on in there.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Varicocele Repair (History)

We started this journey over 18 months ago. But the didn't star the blog until Dec 2005. So the post over the next couple of days will be some history.

I've debated about keeping a tight lid on our identity. I'm not going to tell you exactly who we are, but if you're determined enough you might be able to figure it out. So be it.

When I was 12 I had a varicocele repair. At the time, 1984, the doctor told me I could go for the operation or have the veins drained on a regular basis. We (my parents) opted for the surgery. I was sent to T.O. where a Jewish doctor performed the surgery. And convinced my parents to have me circumcised! Sneaky!

After the surgery there were definitely less veins, but they were still there. They never grew anymore.

Fast-forward to 2001.

I decide to ask my girlfriend to marry me. Before I do I think it would be a good idea to get a sperm analysis done. Unfortunately for me I did not have a family doctor. I called the hospital and told them what I wanted... well, as you could imagine, that didn't take me to far. So I end up asking her to marry me with no sperm analysis.

After TTCing for about 5 months we get a home sperm count test. A little dot was to turn a shade of blue. If it matched the control blue then we were fine. If not we had a problem. We had a problem!

Go to the doctor and ask him for a test. He, being nearly 75, humors me and tells me "don't worry, it is 95% of the time the women's issue." The result from the test were not good. 17 million was the count. To be fertile the man needs to be over 20 million. The doc just told us to be patient and put me on thyroid pills. The pills were meant to get my testosterone up.

Three months later I went for another test. 10 million! Yikes, it went down. Not good. The doc standing in for mine (my doc had a stroke) who was equally as old, told me the same thing "it is a woman's issue, be patient."

We started to do some research. And pushed our doc to hook us up with a urologist. We wanted the varicocele repair done again. The urologist did it and I paid the consequence of a fair amount of pain for a week plus 4 days of near immobility. Luckily I had some pretty powerful pain pills... I liked to call them my happy pills. And a very caring wife that took good care of me.

Later in the week will be post about the thyroid pills and the result of the varicocele repair.

Hello? Can anyone hear me...

17, or maybe it was 18, months ago my wife and I decided to start trying for a baby. She was 30 and I 31. Our biggest concern at the time was getting a July baby, since this would have tied in nicely with our schedule. She is a teacher.

Our second concern was the cost. Could we afford it? What would diapers cost? What about formula? And cribs and strollers... and and.

We even went and got the prices of these things. And found some relief in the fact we were sure many of the things would have been given to us by our family/friends via a baby shower.

The first month we didn't get it. But we weren't really trying.

The second month we missed again. Ok, since not everyone can get preggy first 'real' time trying.

Third month BFN. Well, it took our friend R & T 6 months for their first baby, so this is OK.

Fourth month and were still batting ZERO. No worries, we didn’t bed dance enough that month.

Fifth month and another BFN. This one was hard to take since DW was a couple of days late and our hopes were built up. We even dis-believed the first HPT.

Months 6 to 12 blend in.

Months 12 to 17. Trying for a baby, um, I don't think it feels that way. All hope is pretty much given up.